– The director of a group of aged care homes sanctioned for poor patient care and under investigation by the Coroner over a resident’s death was paid a $1 million on one day.
A two-month Sunday Herald Sun investigation has uncovered allegations of financial mismanagement and serious concerns about patient safety at the Cambridge Aged Care Group, which has five centres across Victoria.
Today, we publish details of a financial statement that shows $1.8 million in payments from the nursing homes’ trust account to director Stephen George Snowden.
There are now concerns Cambridge Aged Care group will collapse, potentially leaving up to 318 elderly residents homeless.
But Mr Snowden has denied the payments had been made to him, saying he had been a victim of a conspiracy.
Cambridge Aged Care includes Alexandra House in Bendigo, Mt Martha Valley Lodge at Safety Beach, Woodhaven Lodge in Croydon North, Rosewood Mews in Greensborough, and Viva Care in Essendon.
Mt Martha Valley Lodge was sanctioned last March because of an immediate and severe risk to residents’ health.
The Department of Health and Ageing confirmed this week it had been monitoring the group for more than a year and had called in the Federal Police to search Alexandra House last September.
The department has also received reports that:
-Woodhaven Lodge ran out of meat twice in one month because suppliers’ bills were not paid;
-Unskilled staff were failing to manage residents’ pain and their wounds at Mt Martha Valley Lodge;
-Electricity was cut off at the Mt Martha Valley Lodge and homes ran out of bread for toast for breakfast because bills were not paid.
The department has investigated claims that Cambridge Aged Care was using bond money, which is paid when residents enter a nursing home.
It is only meant to be used for building and improvement purposes and for offsetting debt, to keep up with day-to-day operational costs.
The Sunday Herald Sun has seen a financial statement from Manormay Unit Trust, a company linked to Cambridge Aged Care, that provides details of direct payments to Cambridge owner, Stephen George Snowden.
Mr Snowden was paid $1 million on June 30th, 2011, in four different transactions of $250,000 – the maximum amount allowed in any one transaction – the document shows.
The general ledger for the trust between July 1st, 2010, and June 30th, 2011, also showed a $360,000 payment to Mr Snowden on May 27th, 2011.
It is not known what the payments were for.
Another $200,000 was deposited into his account on June 6th, 2011, while $151,962, and $10,000 were paid on June 28th, 2011.
In total, Mr Snowden received $1,811,962 from the aged care group’s trust.
The Sunday Herald Sun understands nursing staff worked tirelessly to maintain resident care but that management did not provide them with enough funds.
A Coroner’s spokeswoman confirmed it was investigating the death of an elderly woman at Mt Martha Valley Lodge.
The Department of Health and Ageing confirmed Mt Martha Valley Lodge was sanctioned on March 19th last year for failing to care properly for residents.
The Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency found that the home did not have enough staff to care for patients and that those who were there were unskilled. It found there were problems with the management of residents’ pain and their wounds.
In October, the department found that there were problems with the financial record keeping at Alexandra House and Mt Martha Valley Lodge.
Those homes were found to have failed to keep records of the bonds it received, which van be up to $350,000 per resident. The homes were banned from accepting bonds until tomorrow, when the department will reassess. A department spokeswoman said the home had been on a watch list. “The Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency has undertaken a heightened level of monitoring of Cambridge’s services in the last 12 months including frequent visits to Cambridge homes, unannounced assessment contacts, full review audits, re-accreditation audits, and assessment contacts,” she said. “While past issues about quality of care identified by the Accreditation Agency have been resolved by the services, close monitoring of the services continues to ensure quality of care is maintained.” The Australian Federal Police raided Alexandra House last year, collecting financial documents and interviewing staff.
An Australian Securities and Investment Commission search confirmed Stephen George Snowden was director of Cambridge Aged Care, Manormay Investments and Manormay Pty Ltd.
He was also listed as director of Cambridge Aged Care employment services.
The Commonwealth Government has confirmed it would cover the bill for up to $28 million worth of accommodation bonds in case the company fails.
Mr Snowden yesterday denied he had been paid millions from the Cambridge Aged Care Group.
He said he had been paying money into the nursing home group to get it ready for sale. “I have only ever provided funds to the approved providers to make bond refund payments,” Mr Snowden said.
He said Department of Health and Ageing sanctions against Cambridge accepting new bonds had put the company at risk because it did not have enough money to refunds bonds when patients died – Stephen Drill